I’d had the 31st of May fixed in my head for a couple of reasons. Olivia had an inter school soccer tournament on that day and I’d been wondering if I should take the day off to go and cheer her on. And having been plodding away writing this post through most of May in the cracks and crevices of my days – during my lunch break, in the car after work before the drive home, I’d set myself a 31st of May deadline to get it done already and published.
The thing with plans though –
is that life quite often has very different ones.
The 31st of May remains a day locked in my head now for other reasons. It was this day my mum decided her time here on earth was done and went off to her heavenly home. Just like that, no fuss, no fanfare, about six in the morning while I was still sleeping, a month off 91.
I wrote these words on Instagram a few days after she died and I can’t think of any better to say
Grateful for 52 years with this lady – far longer than many people have their mums for. Grateful that she went in an instant on a clear blue sunny morning, the last day of Autumn before the cold of winter set in. Grateful she is no longer tormented by a body plain worn out that wouldn’t let her do the things she loved to do – she was a maker, always busy with growing, cooking or sewing something but it was the sewing she really missed most these last few years. She was still persevering with crocheting hand towels though and on her last day did a lovely piece of crochet in a bright pink yarn that she was really pleased with. Grateful too on her final day she enjoyed an outing and a laugh. But mostly I’m grateful there was no time for fear in going just time to be ushered straight into the presence of God. Grateful also that she’s now reunited with the three of her children who went on ahead of her whom she spent a life time missing. What a beautiful welcome she’ll be receiving. Posted in honour and remembrance of our very own “land army girl” and my mum Sheila Lincoln 26/6/1927 ~ 31/5/2018
Done and finished with this world but fresh faced and new to heaven – I like to think of her there – the shackles gone, the striving over, the homecoming sweet.
A few weeks along I’ve thought much about how quickly she went. The thought that keeps coming to mind is what an incredible kindness. She kept trying to stay, a little bit afraid of death, not wanting to leave us, still trying to do things and this epitomised her life – she was always always one to have a go, to keep at it, to do something, anything – even in this last little while when everything was failing her, her hands, her mind and her energy – she was still trying. This last year she often said to me “What am I still here for” with such frustration. And I’d say the one thing I could think of which was ” Well I’m glad your still here, and if your still here God has a reason.” I wonder now if it was that she didn’t know how to let go, how to stop trying, how to stop mothering and I wonder too if it was that we weren’t ready to let her go. And in the end we don’t decide, God does. Decision made for all of us. And what a kindness to her, what a relief not to have to stare death in the face and give in to the going but to just step through that flimsy veil and be gone to Him. These words I think He might have beckoned her with keep coming to me “Come on, its enough, lets be done with it”.
I would have liked an inkling though that she was going. Seeing her all the time I think I stopped seeing how very very frail she was. I would have stayed a bit longer the night before, I would have sat and stared and taken her face in for the last time. Told her a few things, all things I know she knew but it would have been nice to say again, the love you and the thank you, a million times thank you and the you’ve done well and you’ve been a good mum. She would have liked that.
But I didn’t have an inkling – not one little bit. So what we did was eat chicken, thank God I took it that night instead of the next as I usually do and with a bit of guess work and stopping and starting she told me what she had done that day and what had made her laugh. We admired her crochet and I rubbed on some cream – there was always cream that needed to go somewhere – then as always she hurried me off because she knew the kids were waiting at home, a kiss – there was always a kiss before going and we called another good night to each other, her from her room and me as I headed out down the hallway. Not a grand parting as partings go, both of us clueless but I can see it was still lovely in its own way. Not knowing maybe a kindness to me as well in the long run
A few weeks along and the reality of it is setting in, the activity thats been buoying us all along is finally done and finished, her ashes are where she wanted them to be, the memorial service which was everything we could have hoped it to be – a fitting farewell – all done. The flowers on my dining room table are starting to fade and I keep taking pictures of them because they were bought to celebrate her life and her passing and once there gone they’ll be gone.
It’s been nice to write some words about her particularly today. Today is the 26th of June which would have been her 91st birthday.
Her going makes the sentiments of this post that I wrote in the month beforehand ring all the truer I guess so I’ll share it now as is. Hope there’s something in it for you.
How many times do we hear ourselves say it.
And faster every day it seems.
Here we are in June now and do any of us know how we got six months into this new year so suddenly.
On a Monday the week looms large and long but you no sooner get started and you find it’s Friday again. Some weeks seem a total blur one day running clean into another.
And really that would be OK except from one week to the next my kids are growing up and changing and changing fast and I want to grab time and hold onto it so I don’t miss any of it – – –
but it doesn’t work that way and I don’t think I’ll ever remember enough.
There’s no slowing it down, there’s no stopping it, there’s not even a pause button.
All we can really do is try and pay attention.
Take notice of our days and how we fill them – even the most ordinary of them because even they in days to come will feel like gold.
It may be all psychological who knows, but there are a few things I’ve been doing so far this year that I haven’t consistently done before that I feel are helping me keep track and counteract that sense of it all running away from me too quickly.
Nothing genius, nothing revolutionary – really simple things in fact because its me and simple is the only thing that ever works for me on an ongoing basis.
1. I keep a detailed diary.
Now I’ve always kept a diary of one sort or another to keep track of appointments and where we need to be but as I’ve flicked through diaries from years past there’s great expanses of blank pages with a few Doctors appointments, play dates and birthday parties scribbled in. But these days weren’t blank. They were full of our lives and kids growing and raging around my house and a million things done and my memory fades so fast on the little stuff and unfortunately on the the big stuff too. Thank God for iPhone photos and Facebook!! Well never remember it all, maybe we’re not meant to but enough with the blank pages.
So this year year I’ve been filling my diary pages with what we’ve done and where we’ve been, along with what we’ve had for dinner (what was a hit and what was a fizzer) things the kids are saying and enjoying and even what we are watching on Netflix. Just in point form, no waxing lyrical, no essays. I paste in our movie ticket stubs and occasionally a photo as well. I paste in pretty embellishments too like I’m seven years old because its something Livvy and I like to do together. I write in all the usual appointments and to do lists and things I need to buy too – just everyday stuff but they are our everydays and they’re worth noting. Some days are fuller than others – there’s still a few blanks – like most of life really. I do it not so much for the future but to immerse myself more in the right now.
And yes it’s just your average ordinary everyday diary. Not a bullet journal, not one from a fancy shmancy paper goods or bookshop (how lovely are they though). Mine from Kmart – works the same way . Pics show days not so jam packed with words and embellishments because no one needs to see all my hastily penned shopping lists or my random comments and insights.
2. I get photos developed.
Yes that old fashioned concept where you take a photo and end up with a real photograph you can hold in your hand. All those digital photos on my iPhone and computer and in the “cloud” thingy wherever that is and I wonder what I’ll do if one day any or all of it goes kaput. So no fancy photo books at this stage, I just go down the road to Big W and print a few of my favourites off every few weeks. Costs next to nothing. They end up in frames and on the fridge and stuck in my diary.
3. I make a big deal of small things that reflect the season we are in.
Things like change of seasons, the end of the school term, something scary overcome, a milestone reached, the end of a hard week. Anything really. Acknowledging something, marking it as an occasion or event even with simple words does something. It dog ears the moment and provides a hook we can hang our memories on. It acknowledges the time passing and our part in it. It’s an opportunity for joy and a bit of fun that can otherwise pass by just too easy without noticing. I’ll often make little announcements like “heres to the end of a big week” or “heres to the start of the school holidays”. “First day of summer – time for – – – – ” . Yes they roll their eyes sometimes but if its accompanied by food or something fun they’re all good. This year I made a bit of a fuss of the start (and end) of the summer holidays with a start/end of summer hoorah – packing in the activities and fun and just making a thing of it. You can’t do it all the time with everything – but it’s a great way of taking notice.
4. I write everyday – this ones more for me than for the kids but it helps me keep track of where I’m up to, what I’m thinking about, what’s inspiring me, what I’m learning. I write in quotes or words I’ve taken screen shots of, I write in questions. It helps me work out what I want to do differently and rethink where I’m headed. Sometimes the words will become an IG post or a blog post, some words are just for me.
Some days I haven’t a thing to write but I write anyway and it’s always surprising how much you can write when you think you have nothing to say. It’s helped me feel front and present in my own life if that makes sense and brings a measure of calm. Having written some things out I’m not always scrambling to remember my thoughts. Five to ten minutes worth at the most – sometimes in a pretty book, sometimes in a scrappy old exercise book I’ve found in Olivia’s room. They all work the same way.
This is simply stopping for a few minutes each day. For me it’s usually during my quick as a flash 15 minute morning tea break when I walk downstairs and sit in the sun and fresh air for a few minutes. It only takes a minute or two to take in your surroundings, think about what day it is, what time of the year it is, the weather, what you can hear and what you can see, and how your feeling. – breath it all in and breath it out – be grateful, a simple way of taking notice.
6. Show up where your feet are.
This one I’m still learning and probably always will be. The idea and I know it sounds like a cliche is to be fully present where you are and with what your doing at that particular moment – even if that’s watching a movie with the kids – without stressing about what I’m not doing or what I should be doing next. I feel like I enjoy that time more and that adds to the sense of having immersed myself in the day rather than being a passer through on the way to somewhere else.
7. Do one thing at a time
A bit similar to the above I guess. I have a tendency and maybe you do too to try and make every second as productive as possible which often means trying to do too many things at the same time. I’ll tell you right now for free its exhausting and totally counterproductive. A dear online friend of mine Heather said this to me “Multitasking is just the ability to screw multiple things up at once in my opinion”. I agree. Now having the washing machine, the dishwasher and the slow cooker on at the same time I’m all good with. Trying to cook dinner, pay a bill online, do the lunch boxes for the next day and find some random item for Ken (because apparently in this house I’m the finder of all things ) – I am not so good with. I end up with my head in a spin and things end up half done, badly done or burnt.
These days when I’m doing something and several other things beckon, or one of the people in my house beckon you’ll quite often hear me say “No I’m doing this right now I’ll do that when I’m done here”. Magic little words they are and make for a happier calmer me, a calmer household and a much nicer dinner.
So that’s my few ideas. As you would well know by now I’m no expert on any of the things I write about so if you have a couple of ideas feel free to chime in in the comments below.
I will leave you with these words
“What matters is not how much time a person actually has but how best to inhabit it and make it spacious” Christian McEwan, World Enough and Time.
Linking up today with #PorchStories
and Hearth and Soul with April J Harris